By Cole Lauterbach/Image courtesy of BlueRoomStream –
Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza publicly shared her frustrations with state agencies and the Illinois Auditor General’s office for tardiness in getting Illinois’ official budgetary post-mortem from 2018 to her so that she can release it to the public.
July 1 will mark the beginning of Illinois’ new fiscal year for accounting purposes but the state has yet to release its comprehensive annual financial report, or CAFR, from the fiscal year that ended in June of 2018.
“My first year in office, we got the CAFR out in February. Last year, the CAFR was issued in early March,” Mendoza said Wednesday. “I am highly concerned and disappointed that this process is taking so long. My hands are tied until we get the final audited reports from the Auditor General.”
The process starts with the state agencies making their financial records available to be audited by the Illinois Auditor General’s office. Once the figures are combed over, they’re sent to Mendoza’s office to be compiled into the report.
Mendoza blamed former Gov. Bruce Rauner’s agency heads for not properly transitioning information over to incoming Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office staff, even though the freshman governor’s chief of staff praised Rauner’s people for their cooperation.
“First day in the new job and I wanted to start by noting how helpful Governor Rauner’s Chief of Staff Rodger Heaton was during the transition,” Anne Caprara tweeted on Jan. 15. “He helped us have a smooth transition but he was also personally very helpful with good advice and constant availability.”
The governor’s office didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Illinois is, by far, the last state in the nation to release its CAFR and has only released it as late as July in 2009, when now-deputy governor Dan Hynes released Fiscal Year 2007’s report on July 10. Mendoza said the state appears on track to meet or beat that dubious record this year.
“It’s a joke,” said Bill Bergman, research director with Truth in Accounting. “Comptroller Mendoza should be praised for shining a light on the issue, but it’s also reflective of the fact that the state’s finances, in general, are in such shambles.”
The Illinois Auditor General’s office wasn’t immediately available for comment, but said earlier this month that it didn’t have a timetable for releasing the information to Mendoza’s office.